The Meaning of the Koch Brothers Tapes: “I Don’t Know Where We’d Be Without You”
One of the classic strategies for politicians caught saying embarrassing things is to use the old “there’s nothing to see here, keep moving” ploy. Republicans tried that at first when Romney was caught on the 47% tape, but it didn’t work for them because it wasn’t only what Romney said that was so offensive, it was the context: speaking to a bunch of wealthy donors about all those greedy seniors and poor people. Sounds familiar. The spectacle of Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst, Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton, the head of the Republican Governors Association (and other politicians who were on the agenda or in attendance) kowtowing to Charles and David Koch and other billionaires gathered at the luxury resort. All the money spent on security ($870,000 to rent the hotel exclusively not to mention their own private security detail) to keep the meeting as secretive as possible. And Mitch McConnell, the most powerful man in the Republican party as the Senate Minority Leader, giving a speech outlining how his entire career, and the party’s future policy strategy, were all in service to the Koch agenda. The combination will be as definitional to this campaign as the 47% video was to 2012. And this won’t just make an impact in the four Senate races which have gotten all the publicity so far. This is going to help define the national narrative for the 2014 campaign: these tapes make 100% clear that the modern Republican party is controlled by the Kochs and their billionaire friends. The Kochs invite the most powerful party leaders, the most important candidates, to their “seminars,” and they all come running. These politicians thank the Kochs and their billionaire friends profusely, talk about how they wouldn’t be where they are today without them, and then tell them how they will battle on their behalf if they win.
Mitch McConnell, speaking of the Republican party, said, “I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David, for the important work you’re doing. I don’t know where we’d be without you.” Joni Ernst made absolutely clear, multiple times, that she would never had a chance to win her primary without the donors in the room. Tom Cotton thanked the billionaire financiers for reviving the Republican party in his state, and Cory Gardner begged them to invest heavily not only in Colorado but in the entire Rocky Mountain region, which was “ripe” for them to come in and exploit. Notice that these candidates come from all over the country - the South, the West, the Midwest. The Koch donor network has a broad and deep reach. They control the Republican party from sea to shining sea. The Koch brothers have made clear their agenda. They don’t believe in climate change, and want no regulations on their oil companies. They want their taxes reduced to almost nothing since they, after all, are the “job creators.” They oppose reform and regulation of Wall Street. They don’t believe in a minimum wage, or unemployment compensation, or student loans, or Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They think public education should be privatized and turned over to the corporate sector. And what the 47% recording, and the Koch conference recordings, confirm with 100% certainty, is that this is the same agenda, with the same values, shared by Republican politicians. The Kochs and their millionaire/billionaire friends in that luxury hotel in Orange County, California are now in control of the Republican party- lock, stock, and barrel. And that is the narrative, confirmed on tape, of the 2014 election. Mitch McConnell is right: the GOP would be nowhere without the Koch brothers. The Republicans know where their bread is buttered, and will dance with the ones who brung ‘em.